LA Kings: Cal Petersen, Lias Andersson shine in win over Golden Knights

LA Kings (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LA Kings (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images) /

The LA Kings picked up a much-needed two points in the standings with a 4-2 victory over the Golden Knights on Wednesday night.

The LA Kings topped their rivals to the east in the Vegas Golden Knights by a 4-2 final score, keeping their playoff hopes alive. At least for the moment.

The Kings jumped out to a 1-0 lead less than two minutes into the game, as Andreas Athanasiou led a partial breakaway and beat Vegas netminder Marc-Andre Fleury. Fast starts have been a point of emphasis, and much like the second game of the last Golden Knights’ series, the Kings looked poised to steal a game from Vegas, who just simply don’t lose at T-Mobile Arena.

Kings head coach Todd McLellan kept the defensive pairings the same from Monday’s game, but the team made a lineup change, inserting Lias Andersson back into the bottom-six forwards after a few games with the AHL’s Ontario Reign.

As luck would have it, Andersson gave the Kings a 2-0 lead late in the second period, on a gritty play in front of the Golden Knights.

“We asked him to go to the minors just to get his game polished up and get some game action,” McLellan said of Lias Andersson. “He did that. He was very patient. Every day, [he] showed up the rink, and I don’t know many times he walked by me and said, ‘I’m ready,’ and he was when his number was called. He was ready.”

William Karlsson pulled the Knights within one midway through the second period with an odd bouncing back from the right side of the net. At the time, it felt like, “here we go again,” in terms of the Kings potentially losing an early lead.

However, Todd McLellan’s group stormed right back, getting goals from both Jaret Anderson-Dolan and Alex Iafallo separated by less than four minutes apart. On both plays, Fleury appeared to misplay or misread the puck, playing to the Kings’ advantage. Specifically, on the Iafallo goal, a bouncing puck landed halfway between the Kings’ forward and Fleury, and there was nothing the latter could do except throw his stick toward the net in a desperate effort to stop the puck from going in.

The Kings took a 4-1 lead into the second intermission, but I think everyone knew Vegas would have a strong push in the final twenty minutes.

And sure enough, Shea Theodore sniped a shot from the top of the point, beating Cal Petersen less than four minutes in. The Kings’ netminder stopped 40-of-42 shots on the evening, but there was absolutely nothing he could do there, as he was badly screened by both Gabe Vilardi and Karlsson.

The Kings held off the Golden Knights, earning a 4-2 victory in a building where the opponent rarely leaves with a win.

“It’s tough to win here, one of the toughest arenas to win in in the National Hockey League,” McLellan admitted during the postgame Zoom call. “And for us to get a win, you know it’s we put it in the bank, [it] helps us climb the standings, but it gives us two points that I don’t think a lot of teams are going to get out of this building.”

As alluded to, Cal Petersen played outstanding on Wednesday night, owning a .952 saving percentage. Against the Golden Knights this season, the 26-year-old has a .944 SV% and 2.21 GAA in four games against one of the most dangerous teams offensively in the league.

If there was any doubt about who the clear number on starting goaltender was, Cal cemented himself into that role going forward. It’ll be interesting to see what the Kings do with Quick at the trade deadline if anything.

LA Kings Schedule

The Kings are off on Thursday, but a crucial back-to-back set of games against the San Jose Sharks are coming on Friday and Saturday. Needless to say, the Kings have to show better than their last matchup.